Evaluating Print vs. Internet Sources :
With the advent of the World Wide Web, we are seeing a massive influx of
digital texts and sources. Understanding the difference between what you
can find on the web and what you can find in more traditional print
sources is key.
Some sources such as journal or newspaper articles can be found in both
print and digital format. However, much of what is found on the Internet
does not have a print equivalent, and hence, has low or no quality
standards for publication. Understanding the difference between the
types of resources available will help you evaluate what you find.
Print Sources: Traditional print sources go through an
extensive publication process that includes editing and article review.
The process has fact-checkers, multiple reviewers, and editors to ensure
quality of publication.
Internet Sources: Anyone with a computer and access to
the Internet can publish a website or electronic document. Most web
documents do not have editors, fact-checkers, or other types of
Authorship and Affiliations
Print Sources: Print sources clearly indicate who the
author is, what organization(s) he or she is affiliated with, and when his
or her work was published.
Internet Sources: Authorship and affiliations are
difficult to determine on the Internet. Some sites my have author and
sponsorship listed, but many do not.
Sources and Quotations
Print Sources: In most traditional publications,
external sources of information and direct quotations are clearly marked
Internet Sources: Sources the author used or referred
to in the text may not be clearly indicated in an Internet source.
Bias and Special Interests
Print Sources: While bias certainly exists in
traditional publications, printing is more expensive and difficult to
accomplish. Most major publishers are out to make a profit and will
either not cater to special interest groups or will clearly indicate when
they are when they are catering to special interest groups.
Internet Sources: The purpose of the online text may
be misleading. A website that appears to be factual may actually be
persuasive and/or deceptive.
Print Sources: Qualifications of an author are almost
always necessary for print sources. Only qualified authors are likely to
have their manuscripts accepted for publication.
Internet Sources: Even if the author and purpose of a
website can be determined, the qualifications of the author are not always
Print Sources: Publication information such as date of
publication, publisher, author, and editor are always clearly listed in
Internet Sources: Dates of publication and timeliness
of information are questionable on the internet. Dates listed on websites
could be the date posted, date updated, or a date may not be listed at all.
Other Pages in This Section :
Evaluating Sources : Overview : Evaluating sources of information is an important step in any research activity.
Evaluating Bibliographic Citations : Consider the author, the title of the work, the summary, where it is, and the timliness of the entry.
Evaluation During Reading : After you have asked yourself some questions about the source and determined that it's worth your time to find and read the source, you can evaluate the material in the source as you read through it.